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Nov 15, 2009 at 09:02am IST

Czechs mark 20th anniv of Velvet Revolution

Prague: Former Czech president Vaclav Havel opened festivities in Prague celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, which toppled the communist regime in 1989.

Lou Reed, Suzanne Vega and Joan Baez performed at the concert, on Havel's request on Saturday. Revellers also watched video messages from US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Obama said, "Your courage inspired the world," while Merkel recalled the massive demonstrations at Wenceslas Square in Prague that eventually led to freedom.

CATALYST: In the picture, former President, Czech Republic Vaclav Havel, important player in democratic changes.

On November 17, 1989, a crack down by riot police on a peaceful student protest in Prague, kicked off the Velvet Revolution.